Carnevale : Venezia : Italy

Carnevale : Venezia : Italy

Apart from Easter in Seville – Santa Semana – we’ve not witnessed a spectacle quite as amazing as the Venice Carnival. We arrived in Venice on a cold, misty February morning, having booked two nights in Venice. Not even considering what time of year it was. We stepped off the water taxi, not really taking in what was happening around us, but something caught our eyes…

Mingled in with the tourists and Venetian residents rushing around, doing normal things, were figures like the one above. Some posing elegantly, clearly used to being a part of this spectacle. Some were strolling along in pairs, groups. Some had even been doing their shopping – I’ll never forget the sight of a Casanova type courtesan, carrying his evening meal supplies in a Conad supermarket shopping bag. And then it dawned on us – it was February. Carnival time!

As we headed away from the Grand Canal and further into the maze of streets and alleyways and bridges, more of these astonishingly beautiful beings appeared. We were utterly mesmerised. Initially, it felt a bit intrusive taking photos, but we quickly realised that the whole point of the promenading was to be seen and photographed, so a simple “Posso?” generally resulted in a very striking pose…

And, just to debunk the myth that Venice is prohibitively expensive, especially over the Carnival, we also enjoyed an afternoon of free theatre and opera in St Mark’s Square. An absolutely exhilerating experience, and definitely one we won’t forget…

 

 

venice : italy : 2013

venice : italy : 2013

Of all of the places we visited recently, Venice has to be one of the most memorable. We arrived on a cold, misty afternoon and were prepared for the weather to stay this way as we’d been under thick cloud all the way from Rimini. The lagoon, on either side of the road bridge into Venice was eerie, but still very beautiful, in the mist. Huge cruise liners, like floating cities, suddenly appeared out of the fog, signalling that we had reached Venezia…

Driving to Venice is a bit daunting – even after negotiating much of the length & breadth of Italy! – but through trial and error this is what we found out & hopefully it may be helpful if you too decide to take the car. Obviously, being all canals and water and bridges, you have to leave the car in one of the designated car parks outside the centre. Here’s our advice so that you’ll hopefully get there without attempting to kill one another.

  • At the end of the road bridge which connects Venice to the mainland, stay in the right hand lane and follow the signs for Garage San Marco. Stay in the right hand lane as this takes you to the SHORT STAY CAR PARK – relatively cheap, considering you’re in Venice (we paid about 12 euros for 5 hours)
  • Turn left out of car park and left again – walk across the bus concourse, up the steps/bridge and you’ll find Santa Lucia train station on your left & the Grand Canal on your right

We walked from this point to St Mark’s Square – it’s a long walk, through winding streets, piazzas, up steps, over bridges and you WILL get lost, but it doesn’t matter as it all leads eventually to the spectacular Piazza San Marco & the stunning Basilica. It is touristy. It is busy. The pigeons will dive bomb. But, it is one of the most breath-taking sights we saw in all of Italy. A fine reward after a very long walk…

It’s been a good few years since my last trip to Venice and we were better equipped this time to get around quickly and easily – which was just as well, as sadly, this visit was a flying one. We hadn’t even intended on stopping in Venice, having booked a hotel in Verona, and intending to spend the day there. However, the lure was just too much and we spend a fabulous afternoon strolling through the streets and alleyways and over bridges, before hopping back on a water taxi to collect the car and head off to Verona.

From Piazza San Marco, it’s very easy to get a shuttle back. (There’s also the options of water taxis, and if you’ve more money than sense, a gondola). The journey from St Mark’s to Santa Lucia (where you need to get off if you’re parked in Garage San Marco), takes about an hour and is probably the best way to see Venice. Carabinieri. Ambulances. Private gondolas. Speedboats. They’re all there – a magical experience!